Sutherland’s dulcet tones bring it all to life in a dignified and engaging manner. When he’s discussing the possibilities of reindeer plummeting off a cliff face, with their antlers entangled, he ensures it sounds as grave as it is. He ably pulls off the happier times as well, such as when Ailo meets other young fawns for the first time.
And then there’s the score for A Reindeer’s Journey. This does not work very well. Mind you; it is not a poorly written piece of music at all. Instead, it is continually used at the wrong times. Logging is happening deep in the forests of Lapland, and Ailo stumbles upon some human-made machines designed to devastate his home. Sutherland chilling talks about how the machines fright the animals and that cutting down the trees disrupts the reindeer’s natural migration patterns, patterns they’ve held for time immemorial.
“Ailo is a fun personality, full of confidence and charm…”
The music playing during this somber moment is the most upbeat and cheery notes played during the entire documentary. It completely ruins the otherwise intense and visually splendid moment and breaks the spell of the movie had on the viewer. This sequence is not the only example of such a poorly mismatched moment between visuals, tone, and music. This flaw proves most frustrating, as the film has everything else going in its favor.
A Reindeer’s Journey is beautifully filmed, with sweeping vistas highlighting Lapland’s stunning terrain. Ailo is a fun personality, full of confidence and charm. His herd’s plights throughout the year-long timespan are full of both happy triumphs and devastating defeats. And it is all brought to life by the pleasing narration of Donald Sutherland. It’s too bad then that the music rarely fits what is being shown and does not allow the audience ever fully to become enthralled by the movie.
"…a bit of charm in the animals themselves."